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Larry Scharmota thinking about scootersThe Story of Larry

Larry has been my friend since Jr. High school. In all that time (which is measured in decades) he has NOT been a motorcycle kind-of-guy. Larry is one of those guys who ride a serious pedal-bike in rigorous competition.... with himself. Growing up in Winona Minnesota, we had some fabulous roads for both motor-powered and pedal-powered bikes including Garvin Heights which is a looooong steeeeeeeeep hill ride. If I made it to the top on a pedal-bike without having to step off and "walk" it, it wasn't very often. Not even when I was young and in great shape. I'm sure Larry cannot count the number of times he has ridden that road and "walking" the bike never occurred to him. Larry also has very little (if any) "social" fear, and can always be counted on to do things at the drop of a hat that most people would never even think about. 

I have participated in the instruction (some would say the corruption) of many motorcycling and enthusiasts and Larry was never one of them. He wasn't interested and it didn't occur to me to push him. Then came the scooters. 

During a visit (Larry lives outside Chicago and I'm in St. Paul Minnesota) in the late summer of 2005, we were in my garage looking at two (I hadn't purchased the Kymco yet, it was just the Vino and the Stella) scooters. Larry glanced over my Suzuki Bandit with a that's-nice-if-you-enjoy-it look on his face, but he was immediately drawn to the scooters. He was asking lots of questions about their operation, economy and so on. He also made numerous comments in the "they look like lots of fun" ilk. It was a nice enough day, and I offered to take him for a spin around the lake (I live right by Lake Phalen) as a passenger. He hopped on and we took off. I stopped in the empty parking lot of the rec center and asked if he'd like to give it a try. Within a very short time, he was zipping around like a pro. We rode back to my house and grabbed my wife Bev for a ride. I thought Larry would want to ride as a passenger with me while Bev rode on her own. Nope. Larry all but begged to ride Bev's Vino (hmmm, there may, in fact, have been some begging). Bev and I rode on my Stella and Larry was on the Vino. I kept stopping and checking with him to make sure he was doing OK. He could barely speak through the huge grin on his face. We ended up riding parkways for over 20 miles on the first day. 

Ever since then, we have ridden every time Larry visits. I have had to borrow scooters from friends so all three of us could ride together (until buying the Kymco) and I'm sure Larry has several hundred miles under his belt. The huge grin remains as big as the first day riding. This, from a guy who wanted nothing to do with powered two-wheel conveyances. I'm glad that Larry has joined the scooter crowd and is now "one of us." 

That's my version of the Larry story. I'll try and get him to contribute his perspective to this and maybe even post a picture or two. 

Dave


Larry Scharmota on a Red Stella ScooterThe Story of Larry - Larry's Version

I have known David forever, decades, lifetimes, measure it as you will. One thing is for certain, albeit with a good heart, David is a very corrupting influence. We should all be glad he uses his powers for good and not evil.

In all the time that I've known David, it's been about power.  His Olds 442, the countless number of 2 wheeled rockets, even the little 15 ft. runabout that he talked me into buying.....oh ya, it had a big block Chevy 409.  Just a little somethin' to putt around the Mississippi River on.   

There were times when I had the opportunity to ride minibikes and that was fun.  But at the same time, I was learning that if I rode my bike to the top of some of the bluffs that dropped from the ridge down into the  Mississippi River valley, that I could experience acceleration and speed that wasn't achievable on a minibike.  Thinking back, despite the thoughts about “murdercycles” that were driven into me by my nurse mother, I was probably under more risk flying down the side of those bluffs with my feet strapped to the pedals.  Live and learn.  

When David started talking about scooters I just sort of dismissed it because of the lack of power.  Even after he introduced me to Stella I thought it was just a phase, a reverse midlife crisis sort of thing.  It peaked my interest though.  When he bought the Vino for Bev I remembered her valiant effort with the Ninja.......I was sure it was coming to the end of the phase.   

Now this is where we have to talk about creative license.  I'm not so sure how Dave's story, reality and my story all jive but the truth is in there somewhere.  I remember going out to his garage, where he had both scooters lined up......for lessons.  The clutch on the Stella was more than I wanted to deal with so I begged off that one right away.  It's not that I'm afraid of such things; my bicycle is set up with a friction derailleur system - no indexing for me. I've always thought that if you can't get it into gear you shouldn't be on it.  I could learn it easy enough, but twist and go operations on the Vino would let me focus on practicing low speed riding skills. I would be familiar with the machine quickly so that we could actually ride around the lakes that much sooner.   

There is just something about these scooter things that illicit an immediate smile.  We've coined the term “permagrin” for the expression on one's face while riding.  That's the difference for me.  When I'm set in the saddle of my bicycle, churning away the miles - searching for hills in the flatlands of Chicago's far northwestern suburbs, there is always a grimace of pain on my face.  When I'm on a scooter there's a permagrim.  I must admit they've captured heart; I have so much fun riding them.    

I have a disconnect though - Scootin' around is just part of my St. Paul visits.  To Dave's office, around the lakes, out for breakfast, to the movies......rain has been the only reason to start a car.  At home in Lakewood, that joy of scootering is replaced by a healthy fear of Illinois drivers.  I've not been able to get over that by reconciling it against the fun I have scooting.  I must appeal to my practical side.  With gas prices going higher, it's probably best to limit the use of my 12 cylinder BMW to 100mph+ runs up to St. Paul, and do my around town chasing about on a scooter......easier to park too.  Guess David and I continue to grow up, it's not all about the power anymore.

Damn, it’s happening again, isn’t it.

Larry       

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Last modified: August 22, 2013
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